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Monitor Resolutions and Ratios

Author:Brian Dill  
Created:2006-12-17
Updated:2006-12-17
Show Until:2007-02-17

The Standard Ratios

There are two basic industry standard aspect ratios for monitors and televisions. The "standard" 4:3 and widescreen 16:9 where these numbers represent width:height. Basically every TV and monitor made up until the 1990's was the standard 4:3 ratio.
Standard
4:3 ratio
4 / 3 = 1.33_
Widescreen
16:9 ratio
16 / 9 = 1.77_
So the $64,000 question is "Which is better?"

The answer - as it is in most cases - is "it depends"

If a TV or monitor's primary job is viewing widescreen movies or other widescreen content, then a widescreen monitor will suite you best. If you mostly view standard TV or mostly surf the web then a standard ratio monitor will be more efficient.


Monitor Resolution Settings

WidthHeightRatio*# PixelsNotes
6404801.3333_307,200Basic VGA
8006001.3333_480,000
10247681.3333_786,432Commonly used resolution for CRT
11528641.3333_995,328
12807201.7777_921,600"Medium" Hi-Def resolution capable of 720p but not 1080
12807681.6666_983,040
12809601.3333_1,228,800
128010241.251,310,720Common res for 19" LCD
13607681.770833_1,044,480765 would give the true 1.77_ wide-screen ratio, but close enough.
140010501.3333_1,470,000
14409001.61,260,000Common "widescreen" res for 19" LCD, but not 1.77_ ratio. A height of 810 would give it a 1.77_ ratio
144010801.3333_1,555,200
160012001.3333_1,920,000
168010501.61,764,000
192010801.7777_2,073,600True high-def TV 16:9 ratio & 1080 horizontal lines
* an underscore(_) indicates repeating value.

Standard vs. Widescreen

Standard 4:3Widescreen 16:9
DiagonalWidthHeightWidthHeight
10.8000.6000.8715755370.49026124
43.202.403.491.96
75.604.206.103.43
1310.407.8011.336.37
1512.009.0013.077.35
1713.6010.2014.828.33
1915.2011.4016.569.31
2016.0012.0017.439.81
2116.8012.6018.3010.30
2520.0015.0021.7912.26
2721.6016.2023.5313.24
3225.6019.2027.8915.69
4032.0024.0034.8619.61
4233.6025.2036.6120.59
5040.0030.0043.5824.51
6048.0036.0052.2929.42
6652.8039.6057.5232.36
29.37223.5017.6225.6014.40
34.31827.4520.5929.9116.82

A 32" standard ratio TV in letterbox is equivalent to a 29.372" widescreen TV.
(standard 4:3 ratio diagonal x 0.9179) = widescreen 16:9 diagonal equivalent.
A 42" widescreen TV in 4:3 mode is equivalent to a 34.318" standard TV.
(widesreen 16:9 ratio diagonal x 0.8171) = standard 4:3 diagonal equivalent.



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